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Review: MARY POPPINS Returns To Sydney To Enchant A New Generation With The Tale Of Manners And Magic

MARY POPPINS

Review: MARY POPPINS Returns To Sydney To Enchant A New Generation With The Tale Of Manners And Magic

Wednesday 25th May 2022, 7pm, Lyric Theatre Sydney

Twelve years after MARY POPPINS first flew into Australian theatres, the musical theatre adaptation of P.L. Travers' famous magical nanny returns to the Sydney stage to the delight of young and old. A beautiful aesthetic and theatre magic come together with fabulous music and choreography to draw people into the surreal world that surrounds the mysterious woman that arrives with the wind for children, and adults, that desperately need her help.

Review: MARY POPPINS Returns To Sydney To Enchant A New Generation With The Tale Of Manners And Magic While the Australian born author of the MARY POPPINS books, P.L. Travers, is widely understood to have been disappointed with the 1964 Disney movie treatment of her stories which turned the rather proper, quick quipped Nanny into an overly saccharine character, (see SAVING MR. BANKS), the stage version sits closer to her intentions for the sensible and strict Nanny that chose compassion and enjoyment over misery and punishment to achieve her aims. This return to the original series of 8 books has also allowed producer and co-creator Cameron Mackintosh to create a theatrical expression that gives older audiences something new as they see a different interpretation of Mary Poppins while the darker, harder messages that bad behavior and lack of consideration for other people and possessions has consequences. While some of the famous sequences from the movie, like the penguin dance and ceiling tea-party were simply not feasible for a live production and thankfully the temptation that many other modern musicals have given in to of utilizing LED screens has been resisted, this stage version does include classic scenes like the chimney sweeps on the rooftops of London and meeting the Bird Woman (Nancye Hayes) on the steps of St Paul's.

Review: MARY POPPINS Returns To Sydney To Enchant A New Generation With The Tale Of Manners And Magic Connecting the work to its print origins, Bob Crowley's scenic design is wonderfully intricate monochrome drawings for the world that hasn't been touched by Mary Poppins vitality, the grey London that threatens to take down a person if they don't have the inner imagination to see beyond the dreary weather, stiff formality and challenging economic times of Depression era Edwardian London. The adventures into Mary Poppins fanciful worlds are clearly delineated with all the colors of the rainbow presented with vibrancy yet still restraint to ensure they don't completely tip into garish clashes. Crowley's costume design similarly follows the same color theory with the Banks family, whilst having some color to their attire, are muted compared to the rich solid colors of Mary Poppins' coats and the characters the children encounter with her, even the chimney sweeps have a sparkle in the dark soot covered clothes. After the prolonged shutdown of theatre, it is wonderful to see a full cast production again with huge dance numbers, choreographed elegantly by Matthew Bourne (Choreographer and Co-Director), recreated by Richard Jones. The work has classic musical theatre elements along with ballet and tap ensuring that the work remains fresh and vibrant.

Review: MARY POPPINS Returns To Sydney To Enchant A New Generation With The Tale Of Manners And Magic Taking up the parrot headed umbrella for this production, Stefanie Jones is more than "practically perfect" for the role. Jones has an innate charm. She can say so much with just a look and while every move is as precise as one would expect from the very exact nanny, nothing feels forced. She has that "twinkle" in her eye that conveys there is much more below the well pressed shirt and precisely pinned hair, ensuring that its easy to understand why people fall under Mary Poppins spell. Her vocals are rich and pure, balancing between the English accent and ensuring that she still owns the role and isn't trying to sound like movie memory.

Review: MARY POPPINS Returns To Sydney To Enchant A New Generation With The Tale Of Manners And Magic Jones is perfectly matched with Jack Chambers as Bert, the jack-of-all-trades that shares many of the adventures with Mary and the Banks children. Like Jones, Chambers delivers captivating dance sequences and has an endearing charm that makes it believable that the children would easily come to trust him, even though he's not the sort of person their father would approve of them associating with.

Review: MARY POPPINS Returns To Sydney To Enchant A New Generation With The Tale Of Manners And Magic Rounding out the central adults are Lucy Maunder and Tom Wren as Winifred and George Banks. Maunder is always a delight to watch and listen to and her expressions that convey Winifred's true feelings are priceless. She gives Winifred depth while exposing the expectations of women in Edwardian England. She captures the inner conflict the former actress has with her new role in life as a wife and mother trying to keep her husband happy by assimilating with the society he wants to be associated with. Making his musical theatre debut, Tom Wren captures the essence of the British "stiff upper lip" that he perceives the Bank employee should have whilst giving subtle hints to a softer side that he is withholding, forced into the repression from years of emotional trauma inflicted by his own nanny.

Review: MARY POPPINS Returns To Sydney To Enchant A New Generation With The Tale Of Manners And Magic Other roles of note are Nancye Hayes as the Bird Woman, Stephen Anderson as the Park Keeper, Hanna Waterman as Mrs Brill and Gareth Isaac as Robertson Ay. Hayes gives the Bird Woman an air of intrigue beneath her forlorn circumstance. Anderson gives the Park Keeper the right balance of absurd adherence to the rules and humanity. Waterman and Isaac as the domestic help create comic relief from the intensity of the Banks family dynamic with Isaac contributing to a brilliantly farcical sequence with the Banks children, presented by Chloe Delle -Vedove and William Steiner on the night reviewed.

Review: MARY POPPINS Returns To Sydney To Enchant A New Generation With The Tale Of Manners And Magic A perfect escape from the real world while holding important messages for audiences of all ages, MARY POPPINS is a must see. Even if you have strong memories of the movie, see this stage version and reconnect and learn more about the mysterious care giver. A vibrant blend of well-known music and songs created for this work MARY POPPINS reinforces the importance of family and trust that the impossible can happen.

https://marypoppinsmusical.com.au/

Photos: Dayna Ransley

Review: MARY POPPINS Returns To Sydney To Enchant A New Generation With The Tale Of Manners And Magic



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